Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Blair Witch Project: The Sequel Is Here

The sequel to Blair Witch Project – which is creatively named Blair Witch – premieres tonight in theaters.  The original revived the found footage genre when it came out in 1999, and whether you love it or you hate it, you can’t deny that the movie deserves a prominent place in the Horror Movie Hall of Fame.

If that’s not an actual something, it should be.

You might be thinking, “What about Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2?”  Well, two things:

  1. Stop thinking about it.  It’s not a good movie.  It just isn’t.
  2. The creators want us to ignore it, so that’s what you should do.

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Blair Witch follows a group of college students into the Burkittsville woods where they are predictably – as the title suggests – terrorized by a malevolent presence.   According to IMDB, the main cast for the movie is double the original at a total of 6.  Hopefully, they’re all a lot more likable than the 3 from the first movie, but it doesn’t really matter.  I doubt any of them make it out alive anyway.

I’m really interested to see how this one measures up, but I’m on the fence about whether to see it in theaters or not.  Unfortunately, I am part of the group that doesn’t do very well with shaky cam movies.  I get motion sickness quite easily, I get really nervous about throwing up, and I’m cheap so I don’t want to pay for a ticket for a movie I can’t watch. I made it through the Paranormal Activity movies because the cameras were still most of the time.  PA: The Marked Ones almost did me in, but I stayed strong.  I’m a fighter.

I actually really like the original.  Many say they hate it because it’s basically just three annoying college kids arguing in the woods most of the time, but if you’re familiar with the forest – whether because you’re a frequent camper or because you grew up around it – I think it’s easier to identify with the terror and dejection of being lost and frightened.    Yeah, you just want to punch them most of the time, but when you hear the children laughing in the woods around them, see the creepy stick figures, or see the bloody bundle of Josh’s hair and teeth, you kinda feel for them.  I mean, that’s pretty terrifying.

And the ending is one of my favorites of any horror movie.  It packs a punch.  Seriously, I would recommend anyone watch just for that part.

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Anyway, if I go see the sequel, I’ll be sure to give a quick review of my experience.  I’ll also make sure to get a Sprite to help my stomach power through.  Maybe I’ll give it a pep talk beforehand.

Do you plan on seeing it in theaters?

Home Invasion Horror Movies

Don’t Breathe hit theaters over the weekend, and it seems to have struck a chord with moviegoers.  It has impressed critics and topped the box office, so it got me thinking; what else can I and other horror movie fans do to satisfy our home invasion horror movie craving?

Never fear, because there are quite a few horror movies out there involving home invasions.  Here are my faves:

The Collector (2009)

This movie is pretty gruesome.  A man doing helping with maintenance at a family’s home is revealed in the beginning to actually be (SPOILER ALERT) casing the residence to break in while the family is away on vacation.   He follows through with his plan, but after he’s inside, he finds himself in a house rigged with Saw-like booby traps and the family being tortured.  It’s pretty crazy, but if you can’t take so-called  “torture porn,” you might want to watch this one with your finger on the fast forward button.

The Strangers (2008)

This movie gets a lot of flack for the poor decisions made by the lead characters played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, but I still love this movie.  An on-the-rocks couple is spending some time at an isolated house, and terror comes knocking on their door in the form of a skinny, young lady looking for “Tamara.”  She ain’t, and soon the lady and a few other masked creeps begin to freak the hell out of the couple and (SPOILER ALERT) ultimately kill them in a “gut-wrenching” way.

That was a pun I just made.

Silent House (2011)

Elizabeth Olson is helping her father and uncle renovate a cabin to get ready for its sale and soon becomes isolated from them.  She gets trapped inside with intruders and has to try out a few hiding places in the house.  I don’t want to give anything else away, so just watch it.  This one is creepy and filled with some great twists and turns.

The Purge (2013)

The Purge movies have become pretty popular, and although I like Anarchy and Election Year better than the first, it’s still a pretty great example of home invasion horror.  Even a super-rich family with all sorts of security measures protecting their home isn’t safe from annual purgers after their son lets in a man trying to escape being murdered.

High Tension (2003)

This is one of my favorite French horror movies, and I love the craziness of it all.  A woman travels to her family’s country home to visit and brings along her friend.  They’re brutally attacked, and the thrill ride that follows is so stressful and insane.  I love it.

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That’s only a small portion of home invasion horror movies out there.  If you run through those, you can try The Last House on the Left, The People Under the Stairs, or the French movies Martyrs or Inside.  I haven’t seen Inside yet, but I plan on remedying that within the next week or so.

And I only recommend Martyrs if you’re ready to be messed up for a little while.  That movie, man.  It’s rough.

Lights Out: Movie Review

If you’re a reader of my blog, you know that I was super excited for the movie Lights Out.

I was not disappointed.

The movie is directed by David F. Sandberg, the director of the short film of the same name, and although he hasn’t directed a feature-length film before this, he did a fantastic job setting a creepy tone and not relying too much on jump scares to captivate the audience.  And others in the industry must have thought so, too, because he’s been hired to direct the sequel to Annabelle.

The movie opens with a very scary scene with Billy Burke and the star of the short film, Lotta Losten.  (Side note: Since she doesn’t have any speaking lines in the short film, I never realized Losten wasn’t American.  I was pleasantly surprised by her accent.)  I’m not going to give anything big away.  I just want to say that the film’s monster/ghost/supernatural being is very well done, and the opening put everyone on edge.

I believe I heard more than a few screams and jumps within the first 10 minutes.

After the opening, Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, the daughter of Sophie, a bipolar woman played by Maria Bello.  Sophie’s mental issues interfere with the raising of Rebecca’s little brother, and Rebecca must get involved to help her brother get out of the sad situation.  Of course, this is a horror movie, so we know this situation involves an evil entity.  And if you’ve seen the trailers, you know the entity causes some problems in their family life.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, so I don’t want to go further into detail.  I will say that the effects, music, and acting make this one a must-watch.

The Babadook: 5 Scariest Moments

My husband and I just finished binge-watching season 6 of Game of Thrones.  Don’t worry.  No spoilers here if you haven’t seen it, but let me just say –

IT. WAS. AWESOME.

So where does the post title come in?  Well, this season had a new recurring character played by Australian actress, Essie Davis.

Ms. Davis stars in The Babadook as Amelia, an exhausted mother to a – let’s just say – very special child named Samuel.  After seeing her in Game of Thrones, I just really wanted to watch the movie again.  So that’s exactly what I did yesterday morning.

Davis is amazing in this movie, and although little Samuel really annoys the living crap out of me in the first half, I’ve got to say that Noah Wiseman does really well in his role, too.  Mr. Babadook himself is a remarkably scary figure, bringing to life childhood fears of the boogeyman and making this one of the scariest movies in recent memory.

So let’s count down the 5 scariest moments of The Babadook:

5)  The First Reading

Samuel chooses this book for his mother to read to him one night, and we’re first introduced to the incredibly creepy titular Babadook.  Although this scene doesn’t happen very far into the movie, you’re already well aware that the little guy has some problems, so when Amelia starts to read the story, the tension is heightened because you know this isn’t going to end well.  And it sure doesn’t, leaving Samuel a crying mess and Amelia yet again beaten down by life.

4)  The Second Reading

The book shows up at their house after Amelia has shredded it and put it in the trash bin.  When Amelia reads through it again, there are new pages added to show the probably fate of Amelia, Samuel, and Bugsy, their adorable little dog.  And then the phone rings.  When Amelia answers, all she hears is the word “Babadook” spoken in a creaky, creepy voice.

3)  The Chase

Amelia has been possessed by the Babadook after letting him in and chases Samuel about the house after killing Bugsy.  Her eyes are crazed, and her hands are out to her sides and curved into claws, mimicking the Babadook’s stance.  When she yells at Sam, her voice morphs from her soft-spoken tone to a deep, menacing one.

2)  The Bedroom Battle

Just when you think everything’s okay, little Samuel reminds us that you can’t get rid of the Babadook right before he’s pulled upstairs by an invisible force.  Amelia runs after him and faces her fears by screaming at the Babadook, materializing in the dark side of her bedroom, to leave them alone.

1)  The Fireplace

My favorite scene of this movie is when Amelia is running from the Babadook and ends up in a heap by the fireplace.  The Babadook’s hat falls from the chimney, and Amelia lurches away from the fireplace.  Her terrifying, slow crawl creates such tension in the scene.  Gets me every time.

 

Independence Day Trilogy: A Patriotic Tribute to Horror

Happy 4th of July! We Americans are celebrating our independence hard today with hamburgers, ice cream, and fireworks, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to add a little fright to the mix.

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many Independence Day-themed horror movies out there, but there are at least enough to add a little horror to your holiday.  So if you were wondering what kinds of horror movies to watch on the 4th of July, wonder no more.

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I recommend starting with the horror-comedy Uncle Sam (1996), because I think it’s always best to start off light and end fierce with make-your-own trilogies.  There’s a science to it, people.

This movie is about a Desert Storm veteran who returns from the grave on Independence Day to punish the unpatriotic citizens of his hometown.  And he does it with a super-cool Uncle Sam mask.  Full of blood and gore and absurdity, this is a great flick to start off on.

Next up in the unofficial 4th of July Horror Movie Trilogy is I Know What You Did Last Summer (1998).  Jennifer Love Hewitt shows off her “talents” in this movie about a group of friends who runs over a stranger after an Independence Day celebration and covers it up by dumping the body. Of course, said stranger comes back to terrorize them resulting in madness and mayhem for them and fun for you.

Finally, let’s wrap this thing up with the always classic Jaws (1975).  You can’t very well have a 4th of July Horror Movie Trilogy without it.  I’m not even going to go into details with this one.  It’s Jaws, for god’s sake.

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Well, there you have it.  The Official Unofficial 4th of July Horror Movie Trilogy.  I’m feeling pretty good about this one.

And for a little extra credit: if you’re just way too pumped after your hella patriotic firework display, you can throw a little of The Purge (2013) or The Purge: Anarchy (2014) into the mix. Sure, they don’t have anything to do with the 4th, but you have to admit that the new founding fathers from these movies have created a super-patriotic holiday, sans fireworks.

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I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!  Let me know what you think of the trilogy in the comments.

5 Things You Should Know Before You See The Conjuring 2

The big week is here!  The Conjuring 2 comes out this Friday, and I couldn’t be more excited.  Seriously.  I’m doing a little happy dance right now (which actually makes typing this post a little difficult, so I’m going to stop).

But we do have a lot to be excited about.  The story is badass, it has some great actors, and it’s already getting great reviews.  Plus, James Wan came back to direct instead of lending his skills to Fast 8.  The guy knows his horror.  A lot of scary movies nowadays (easy now, grandma) don’t have the right tone or try too hard, so I’m glad Wan was able to put his touch on this one.

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All that being said, I highly recommend you go see this movie. And if you are being smart and planning on seeing it in theaters, here are a few pieces of trivia to make you seem cool in front of your friends:

1.  Ed and Lorraine Warren are real people who have investigated a number of famous, creepy cases.  They were involved in the investigation of the Amityville murders as well as the story at the heart of the 2009 movie, The Haunting in Connecticut. And, of course, there was Annabelle.

Ed passed away in 2006, but Lorraine is still around and even had a cameo in the classroom scene in The Conjuring.

2. Although the Warrens are the main protagonists of The Conjuring 2, they actually had very little to do with the Enfield Poltergeist case.  They were invited to the investigation, but so were a lot paranormal researchers and investigators.  But I think we all like Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson enough that we can let this one slide.

3.  Although the movie is based – however loosely- on true events, there are many who believe the whole thing was a hoax.  A series of pictures showing one of the daughters “levitating” are believed  by many (including myself) to just be her jumping off her bed.  Others claim to have seen the daughters bending spoons to use as evidence of a haunting, and one of the daughters even said the house wasn’t haunted in an interview before being told to shut up by her sister.

4. But those involved swear that although the children involved might have embellished some things, other creepy events were all too real, including moving furniture witnessed by a number of people and strange noises heard in the house.

5. Some Philippine viewers of the first movie claimed to have strange, creepy feelings after watching it, so Catholic priests were brought in to bless people before subsequent viewings.  The set of The Conjuring 2 was blessed by a priest before shooting began, so you should be okay.

Bonus trivia: If you’ve watched The Conjuring (and I have an inkling you have), you are already aware of the Warren’s famous case about Annabelle.  You probably also know there was a movie loosely based on the story.  What you might not know is that the actual Annabelle doll is far from the creepy-looking doll from hell depicted in the movie.  She’s just a Raggedy Ann doll that got a little frisky who now resides in a protected box in the museum Lorraine Warren manages in the back of her Connecticut home.

So who’s going this weekend?  Let me know what you think of the movie in the comments.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Guy Woodhouse, You Despicable Bastard

If you’re a fan of horror movies or even movies in general, you know there is no shortage of characters to hate.  Some are just bad, some  are so bad you love to hate them, and some are the kind of bad that makes you afraid of them.

And then there’s this douchebag.

One of my favorite horror movies (see my Top 25) is Rosemary’s Baby.  It’s also home to one of the absolutely most despicable characters I’ve ever seen: Guy Woodhouse, poor Rosemary’s husband.

WARNING; If you haven’t seen the movie yet (and shame on you if you haven’t), here be spoilers.

The movie opens with Rosemary and her husband, Guy, apartment hunting in New York.  They end up in the Brown, an old building with a lot of frightening history, and make friends with the old couple living next door,  Roman and Minnie Castevet.  After having dinner with them one night, Guy grows close with them.

I’ll cut to the chase.  Minnie and Roman are actually Satan worshippers who help Guy become successful after he consents to allowing Rosemary to be raped and impregnated by the devil.

And if that last sentence doesn’t do it for you, let me run down the reasons why I hate him so much:

  • Rosemary is a sweet, naive young woman who loves Guy and wants nothing more than to have his children and live a happy life with him.  Guy knows this, and he sacrifices her happiness to get ahead in his profession.
  • He tells her he wants to have a baby, something she wants so, so much.  Then, he drugs her, undresses her for the ritual to take place in front of the Satan-worshippers, and – what was the last thing? Oh, yeah – allows her to be RAPED BY SATAN!
  • He repeatedly makes Rosemary feel like crap during her pregnancy.  She gets a haircut (THE iconic pixie haircut), and he tells her multiple times how terrible it looks (very minor compared to rape, but still).  She says she wants to get a second opinion about the terrible pain she’s experiencing, and he says he won’t let her do it because it isn’t fair to her doctor.
  • He sacrifices Rosemary’s friend (and his friend), Hutch, to ensure that he doesn’t get in the way.  THEN, he throws away a book that is the only thing Hutch leaves Rosemary.  Yeah, he throws it away to keep Rosemary from reading anything else about Roman’s history, but it’s a pretty crappy thing to do.
  • This line: “They told me you wouldn’t be hurt, and you haven’t been, really.  Supposing you had the baby and you lost it. That would be the same thing, wouldn’t it?  And we’re getting so much in return, Ro.”  Ugh!
  • And one more time for those in the back:  HE ALLOWS HER TO BE RAPED BY SATAN.imageYep. This guy.

Whoa.  I got pretty riled up and angry just from writing all of that.  I just cannot stand this guy.  So what about you?  Are there any characters in horror movies that just make your skin crawl?

IT’s Coming

Well, if you’re up on your horror news, you know that Warner Brothers recently announced the release date of the remake of one of my favorite movies, Stephen King’s IT.

Cue happy dance.

My mom has said time and time again that she can’t believe she let me watch that movie when it premiered on TV in November 1990.  I was just 6 years old, and I remember watching it with her in my parents’ bedroom, hiding my eyes at some points and loving every minute of it.

Back in those days, we taped everything.  We recorded a VHS copy of the movie, and I wore that thing out.  I can’t even estimate how many times I watched it, but you know how little kids are with their favorites.  It was on constantly.

Seriously. I’m pretty sure it rivaled my little sister’s obsession with Space Jam and Spice World.

I took it with me to every slumber party and sleepover.  It wasn’t my intention to make all my friends scared of clowns, but it happened. I’m not proud of it.

Okay. Maybe a little. 😉

We’d turn it on late at night and watch Pennywise terrorize kids our age.  It was so fun.  We loved the scene where Georgie’s picture winks at Bill with its awesomely 80s horror movie track and the one with Pennywise coming out of the drain.  I don’t know if I ever took a bath or shower without thinking of that one.

Another favorite was the scene in the Chinese restaurant. Fortune cookie, anyone?

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Tim Curry’s Pennywise will forever hold a special place in my heart as one of my favorite villains.  I don’t know anyone that would argue that Curry didn’t play that role to perfection.  That voice. That laugh. I don’t know how anyone can fill those shoes.

Let’s see if the September 2017 date sticks.  I’m not holding out hope since the production has seen so many problems, but you can bet I’ll be first in line if it does.

The Fright Owl’s Top Twenty Favorite Horror Movies

Since this is the inaugural Top Tuesday post, I thought I’d give my audience a little peek inside my head and list my top 20 favorite horror movies.  It was just going to be a top 10 at first, but that just made me sad.

So here goes…

20) Evil Dead: How could I not put Evil Dead on the list?  Sam Raimi + Bruce Campbell = Imperfect Perfection

19) Paranormal Activity: These movies get a lot more hate than they deserve.  I love that they aren’t in-your-face with the effects and that you have to use your imagination. Plus, I’m pretty special because I’m listed in the credits on the DVD.  Yeah. It’s there along with a billion other people’s names, but DON’T YOU TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!

18) Trick ‘r Treat: I love a good, Halloween-themed, intersecting bunch of stories as much as the next person.  That’s why this one is probably on your list, too.  And Sam is just freakin’ adorable.

17) The Conjuring: Of the new horror movies that have come out recently, this is only second to one.  It doesn’t have to try too hard to get the creep factor across.

16) Sinister: This is that one. Love, love, LOVE this movie. The music, the direction, the story…all gold in my book.

15) Scream: Ah, the movie that spurred a rash of slasher movies in the late 90s.  Where would we be without Billy Loomis and Stu Macher?  I can tell you one thing.  There would be no Ghostface, and that is not a world I want to live in.

14) Poltergeist (1982): ”You son of a bitch! You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you? You son of a bitch, you left the bodies, and you only moved the headstones! You only moved the headstones! Why!? Why!?” Best. Quote. Ever. Fin.

13) Stephen King’s It: This was my favorite movie in kindergarten, and Pennywise will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Now, it has a special place on my list.

12) The Thing: Doom? Check.  Gloom? Check.  Creepy awesome severed alien head that grows spider legs and shrieks? Check.

11) Shaun of the Dead: All three movies in the Cornetto trilogy are fantastic in my book.

10) Dawn of the Dead (2004): I love zombies. That is all.

9) Psycho: I love the history of this movie just as much as I love the movie itself.

8) Child’s Play:  Before Chucky became a wisecracking serial killer with a wife and kid, he just wanted to take over little Andy Barclay’s body with his crazy voodoo spell. These movies turned into dark comedies, but the first in the series was seriously creepy.

7) Halloween: Oh, Michael.  I could watch you walk slowly and menacingly for hours. And I have.

6) A Nightmare on Elm Street: I don’t want to glorify a burned child molester, but Freddy’s got it going on in the fright department.  The scene where his arms are stretched in Tina’s nightmare? ‘Nuff said.

5) Rosemary’s Baby: This movie is so tense without having to do much.  Poor Rosemary.  Happy me.

4) The Exorcist: No other possession movie has been able to come close to the horror created in this movie.  Perfect.

3) The Shining: Ghost stories and haunted houses have always been some of my favorite things, and Kubrick created such a foreboding atmosphere with this movie that it’s hard not to rank it higher.

2) The Silence of the Lambs: I know. You might try to argue that this one’s more in the psychological thriller category, but go head.  I’m ready.  Just try to tell me that the world’s most famous cannibal doesn’t also belong on a horror list. You can’t.  Not possible. Point: me.

1) The Ring: If you saw my post on Friday, you know I have a little bit of history with this movie.  It’s the first movie that I saw in theaters that actually stuck with me way after it was over, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be one of those movies that I look back on when I’m older and think how cool it was that I saw it opening night in the theater.

Wow. That was so much harder than I thought it would be, and there are so many other movies that I love that didn’t make the list.  I almost feel guilty that I didn’t add more, but who has time to read a top 100?

So, what’s your favorite scary movie?

I Saw The Ring: Not a Movie Review

I would really like to know what mad marketing genius came up with this one.  Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, in the year 2002, there were these crazy things called VHS tapes.  Before DVRs were a thing, people could use these devices to record and watch their favorite shows and movies directly from their televisions (which were much fatter in those times). 

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A young lady was rearranging her VHS tapes late one summer night, trying to find the perfect one to cure her boredom.  An infomercial was playing (one about the Magic Bullet blender – her favorite), and during a commercial break, the girl heard a high-pitched noise that drew her attention to the screen.

Her television screen, once colorful with brightly flashing images, now reflected only one image against a backdrop of darkness – a ring of light. As she watched, the image changed, replaced by the black-and-white image of a woman with long, dark hair standing in front of a mirror.

As the woman smiled knowingly into the camera, the image changed again – and again and again and again. Dark, disturbing pictures flashed across the screen one after another. Soon after they started, the images were gone, replaced by the dark screen with its ring of light. The girl stared transfixed as a child’s voice was heard. “You will die in seven days.” Immediately, a new commercial, this one bright and happy, replaced the image, and the girl’s semi-hypnotic gaze was broken.

The girl didn’t know what to think. Was that real? Had she just imagined it? She hadn’t had much sleep lately, but she’d never hallucinated before. She wrote down what she had seen and attempted to go to sleep.

The next day she interrogated her parents and sister. Had they seen it? Anything like it? They hadn’t, and the girl began to worry that she was going crazy.

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When the seventh day arrived, she impatiently waited for the dark and the time she had seen the strange video.  The time came and went without incident, and the girl was able to have a good night’s sleep.

She forgot about the odd images for months, her attention focused on preparing for the magical world of college.

One night in October, her college friends asked the girl if she wanted to go see the new horror movie, The Ring.  The girl jumped at the chance.  She was always up for a horror movie.  It was a good one, but when twenty minutes or so had passed, something crazy happened…

I think you know where this story is going. The creepy video I (oh, I’m the girl in the story if you didn’t know) saw in the middle of the night – with absolutely ZERO INDICATION that it was for a movie – was the cursed video from The Ring.  Who does that?!

And I just want to be clear about one thing: IT WAS AWESOME.  I flipped out a little in the theater when I saw the video that had made me think I was going crazy that summer, but I was thrilled.  You know how Naomi Watts looked pretty freaked after she saw it the first time and got the phone call? That’s how I felt. I mean, I didn’t actually think I was going to die, but it was a pretty creepy feeling. And it made me appreciate the movie that much more.

I actually feel pretty special to have been one of the people to get side-swiped by the thing.

So. Anyone else out there have a fun, late-night viewing of the CURSED video? If I never find another person that saw it, too, then I’m just going to assume they’re all dead.  Like I said. I’m special.